National News

London ambulance response times crash

SICK and injured Londoners’ lives are being put at risk as ambulance response times fail to meet targets and they are forced to wait longer for ambulances to arrive.

In some parts of London fewer than half of 999 emergency responses are reaching critically ill patients within the national target of 75 per cent of ambulances reaching patients within eight minutes. These include the highest-priority patients who have stopped breathing and do not have a pulse, and those who have suffered a suspected stroke or fit.

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Dr Ang Swee Chai speaks in Lewisham

by New Worker correspondent

Londoners turned up in droves last week to hear Dr Ang Swee Chai talk about her medical efforts and solidarity work that has made her a household name amongst the Palestinian community.

Lewisham Town Hall’s council chamber was packed to hear her speak, at a fund-raising evening for Medical Aid for Palestine, about her decision, over 30 years ago, to use her skills to help the Palestinian Arabs and her own realisation that the Israelis were not the “good guys” in the Middle East.

In 1987 the Palestinian leader,Yasser Arafat presented Dr Ang Swee Chai with the Star of Palestine the highest award for service to the Palestinian people.

But it all began in 1982 when the Singaporean surgeon decided to leave London to help Christian Aid in a Palestinian refugee camp in war-torn Beirut.

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TUC campaign against modern slavery

THE TUC, along with anti- slavery campaign groups and NGOs, including the Ethical Trading Initiative, has been campaigning using social networking to strengthen the Modern Slavery Bill, which came before the House of Lords on Wednesday.

There are several changes they want to see in the Bill, but as a first step, this Monday, they began pressing the Government to strengthen the requirement for large companies to report on the actions they are taking to address modern slavery in their supply chains.

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A million sign petition against TTIP

THE EUROPE-wide campaign against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP says over a million people in the European Union the petition against the trade deal with the United States that would give giant companies to sue governments if, in their opinion, planning, health and safety regulations impeded in any way their right to make as much profit as possible.

The deal could also force governments to privatise the provision of all services, including health. The petition calls on the EU and its member states to stop the talks on TTIP. It also says they should not ratify a similar deal that has already been done between the EU and Canada.

Campaigners warn that some aspects of the deal pose a threat to democracy and the rule of law. One of the concerns mentioned in the petition is the idea of tribunals that foreign investors would be able to use in some circumstances to sue governments.

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Prison book ban overturned

A HIGH Court judge, Justice Collins, last week quashed a Ministry of Justice policy to ban prison inmates from being sent parcels containing books.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling wanted offenders to earn the right to have books sent to them under an “incentives and earned privileges” scheme.

But Justice Collins said at the High Court that to refer to books as a privilege was “strange” and judged the law illegal.

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Air pollution killed 29,000

AIR POLLUITION has been linked to around 29,000 deaths in Britain according to a report issued last week by the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee.

The committee warned that air pollution is a “public health crisis” causing nearly as many deaths as smoking.

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Home Office tried to gag borders survey

A JOINT survey conducted by civil service union PCS with ITV News has revealed deep concerns over staff shortages at our borders.

The Home Office had tried to prevent PCS members’ responses being made public by seeking a High Court injunction, citing national security.

But in a special investigation aired on ITV News shown last week the true picture of the “shambolic” Border Force, where morale is at rock bottom, was made clear.

In the survey 98 per cent of respondents said there were not enough staff to check goods vehicles and freight for illegal substances and stowaways.

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Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

HAD JESUS Christ chosen last Sunday to make his second coming nobody in Britain would have noticed as departing First Minister Alex Salmond used the day to confirm his own second coming by making the long-expected announcement that he would be standing for the Westminster parliamentary seat of Gordon.

He hopes to win that seat, presently held by departing Liberal grandee Sir Malcolm Bruce, along with many other gains by the SNP to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament after the next general election.

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Kim Jong Il — a guardian of socialism

by New Worker correspondent

Friends of Korea met at the John Buckle Centre in London last week for the launch of a special publication to commemorate the third anniversary of the passing of Kim Jong Il and the dear leader’s immense contribution to the Korean communist movement.

Leading members of the Friends of Korea committee including New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) general secretary Michael Chant and Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association all spoke on different aspects of Kim Jong Il’s outstanding contribution to the world communist movement. From Korea Yongho Thae from the London embassy of the DPR Korea talked about Kim Jong Il’s lifelong work for the Workers Party of Korea and the Korean people.

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International News

Palestinian minister dies after Israeli assault


A PALESTINIAN minister died on Wednesday after being beaten up by Israeli soldiers during a mass rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, provoking outrage and condemnation among the Palestinian Arabs.

Palestinian Minister of Settlement Ziad Abu Ein died in a hospital in Ramallah after being assaulted by Israeli soldiers who were dispersing an anti-settlement rally in the village of Termos Meya near Ramallah.

Witnesses said that Abu Ein inhaled Israeli tear gas and fainted, and that several Israeli soldiers beat him on his head with their helmets and clubs. Other reports said that the minister was struck by the soldiers’ guns.

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Top Chinese communist arrested on graft charges

Global Times (Beijing)

ZHOU YONGKANG, a former member of the standing committee of the politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and ex-head of the nation’s security apparatus and law enforcement agencies, was officially expelled from the Party last week.

Zhou has been arrested and his case and the relevant evidence have been transferred to judicial organs. Zhou’s fall marks a milestone that will lead China’s anti-corruption endeavours to go much deeper and serves to refresh Chinese people’s understanding of these endeavours.

Besides Zhou, Xu Caihou, another former member of the politburo of the CPC Central Committee and a former top military officer, was also dragged down in July in this anti- corruption campaign.

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New ceasefire in Donbas

by Ayre Vende

THE GUNS have fallen silent in eastern Ukraine. A new ceasefire came into effect on Tuesday 9th December and the truce is being respected by the Ukrainian side as well as by militia of Novorossiya.

The Ukrainians are ready to exchange prisoners- of-war with the Novorossiyan Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics (DPR and LPR) on the principle of “all for all” and a new Russian Emergencies Ministry convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Donbas has left Moscow and it is expected to reach Novorossiya on 12th December.

At the same time this truce probably will not last long, even if the representatives of Ukraine and the DPR and LPR in Minsk agree on a further ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons to a safe distance.

Judging by the continuing of the redeployment of Ukrainian troops closer to the current front line, even on the “day of silence”, and the beginning of the fourth wave of mobilisation in Ukraine, there is little hope for a permanent cessation of hostilities in Novorossiya.

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Ukraine coup was staged by US and EU

AN AUSTRIAN Green Party leader and former member of the European Parliament, Johannes Voggenhuber, has accused the United States and Europe of stoking the conflict in Ukraine.

“The US is playing a leading role in this conflict. Western countries are to blame for the conflict in Ukraine, which can be proven by documentary evidence,” Voggenhuber told an Austrian TV channel. America considers itself to be the winner of the Cold War and for that reason is seeking to subdue the entire post-Soviet space, the politician said.

He recalled how peace had reigned in Ukraine in the years preceding the putsch and how Russia had respected Ukraine’s territorial integrity, including Crimea. “It had been that way until the day when a putsch against the legitimately elected president occurred in Kiev.

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Kim Jong Il The Guardian of Socialism

by Andy Brooks COMRADE KIM Jong Il was born on 16th February 1942 at a revolutionary base in the thick forests of Mount Paekdu. His father was great leader Kim Il Sung who had started the anti-Japanese guerrilla struggle from nothing in the 1920s and his mother was the dedicated communist Kim Jong Suk, who fought side by side with the partisans in the liberation struggle.

Kim Jong Il’s early days were of hardship and struggle in the battle that ended in victory in 1945 and the liberation of Pyongyang. Five years later the country was plunged into new horrors when the US imperialists and their lackeys attempted to crush the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and plunged the peninsula into war.

Kim Jong Il’s boyhood was spent in the thick of battle amid great national convulsions and ordeals. Like millions of Koreans of his generation Kim Jong Il dedicated his life to the Workers Party of Korea and the socialist system they were determined to build to create a better life for the Korean people.

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US Congress: clique of criminals or cowards?

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

IT IS by now patently obvious to all, except perhaps to a politically myopic, pith-headed, uncultured twit, that the only “Representing” the House of Representatives does is for itself and the lobbies which pull its members’ strings. A fifth world style of governance; a clique of criminals, or cowards incapable of standing up for their electorate?

Ron Paul’s recent article Reckless Congress Declares War on Russia, referring to the decision by Congress to pass H Resolution 758, in his words “16 pages of war propaganda”, states that this is “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever”. Needless to say, it is a predictable bunch of Russophobic nonsense cobbled together by a handful of neocons pandering to the whims of the lobbies who pull their strings. It is also a resolution that backs criminal activity, contravening every fibre of international law.

What is even more sickening is that the bill only received 10 votes against, meaning that either the entire House is in cavorts with criminal policies or else its members are snivelling cowards who do not have the guts and the spine to stand up for the principles they were elected to represent. Does the House of Representatives represent anything other than the interests of its members? And if this is the case, then why do the American people not stand up and be counted for once? Do they not have any principles either, or does their wonderfully democratic system deny them the tools to make a difference and have their say?

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My reunion with Brazil

by Miguel Urbano Rodrigues

The author is a Portuguese writer, editor and Communist activist, who was exiled in Brazil from 1957 to 1974 and was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper, O Estado do a Paolo, during that period. Later he edited Avante, the weekly newspaper of the Portuguese Communist Party from 1974 to 1975 and then the Lisbon daily O Diario from 1976 to 1985.

I RETURNED to Brazil in November. I had decided that this would be my last visit. This certainly contributed to making the re-encounter very painful. I was in SÃo Paulo and Rio in 2012. Hence the surprise.

In the brief space of two years, the atmosphere, the behaviour of a substantial portion of the bourgeois social strata and the media that form the opinion of the majority of the population have changed dramatically. In this farewell visit I felt almost like a visitor in a strange land.

The joy of reuniting with a people whom I deeply love was neutralised by the knowledge that Brazilian society had acquired the characteristics of a swamp.

Absolute poverty declined during the Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff governments. Paradoxically, the gap between the privileged minority and the vast majority increased. The rich grew enormously rich. According to the daily O Estado de S Paulo, Brazil currently has 61 billionaires, whose fortunes amount to more than $161 billion.

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